Venue: Docklands (Melbourne)
Time: 7.15 PM
Weather: High chance of rain (70%), most likely during the daytime. 15-18 C. Winds north to north easterly (15-20 km/h).
The roof at Docklands looks like it will need to be shut for Renegades vs Strikers which should produce an extra-loud playing arena which should produce a 5% playing advantage for the Renegades. Renegades collected the wooden spoon last year and the Strikers underperformed to finish in 5th so this won’t be the highest quality match of the season but there is some good talent worth watching. This should be a fairly tight game but I would have to lean slightly to the Adelaide Strikers. They have a masterful coach in Jason Gillespie and they have good balance throughout the team.
Be wary of the Melbourne Renegades because they can always find a way to lose. They have two new replacement players with James Seymour and Jonathan Merlo. Seymour scored a century for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield recently and Merlo has played five Big Bash games without doing much so far. The Melbourne Renegades have a new coach in David Saker and Mohammed Nabi is an all-rounder with a touch of class but they don’t really have much after that. Strikers to win in a tight game with 3 wickets or 10 runs to spare.
Two or three class players doesn’t make a team and the lack of depth will show when it comes to pressure situations. The ability to perform no matter what the situation is exemplified by the captain Aaron Finch but unfortunately he is out with an injury. Much will depend on Reece Topley who is a dependable left arm medium-fast bowler who can find the outside edge and take wickets. Zahir Khan has a lot of promise and I think this season he will deliver. But the problem remains: when the pressure increases too many Renegades players choose the wrong option and forget about playing percentage cricket.
Batting Sam Harper will need to score a fifty if the Renegades are to be competitive in this game. The thing is he has a very good chance of doing so. He’s one of the few batters who can intimidate bowlers and he’ll enjoy the early overs because the Strikers are banking on spin. With Nic Maddinson and Shaun Marsh absent Unmukt Chand from India and Jake Fraser-McGurk will need to aim to score at least 30 runs each which should provide Sam Harper to get stuck in at the death which he can do reliably.
The Renegades have a lot of batters averaging around 20 which is the sign of a player just doing enough to hold onto his contract but not really have an impact on the game. Marcus Harris is another example of this however I think he’ll enjoy playing at Dockland because of the high and reliable bounce on offer which suits his cross-bat style. The straight hit at Docklands is very tempting and this will produce some big shots from the middle order and this is where Mohammed Nabi will show his worth.
The tail is thin and I don’t think they can do much against the Strikers. They will probably be called on to perform heroics which are way above their pay grade but Kane Richardson and James Pattinson can hit a few sixes and stick around as well. It will be handy if they can win the toss and bat second because they need things to go their way.
Bowling The bowling looks a lot stronger than their batting and they look like they have the variety and experience to trouble the Strikers. Zahir Khan is the most promising of the bowlers and he has done so far averaging 22 per wicket and I suspect that the opposition still haven’t worked him out. He doesn’t throw it away after a few big hits and keeps his focus which is vital at the Docklands in front of a big crowd.
Reece Topley is a reliable medium pacer with his left armers and provides the variety which could cause the Strikers some problems. A fielder at long on and long off might be a good option for him because he does like to bowl straight and up to the bat. Another bowler with a sound temperament who performs his task with consistentcy.
Zak Evans looks like he has a bright future. Australian selectors would be advised to keep an eye on him as he has done everything right so far with an average of 16 after 6 games. No one likes facing genuine fast bowling and if he can be saved for the death overs then I would expect the stumps to take a beating. One of the brighter prospects in the Big Bash.
Melbourne Renegades: Players to Watch
Mackenzie Harvey is another bright prospect who should do well this season. The Strikers will have a task on their hands once he hits a few boundaries and he has been backed heavily in the markets. Might surprise in this game because he has been building his Big Bash career steadily and this just might be his time. The fact that he bats left-handed should be an advantage against Rashid Khan.
Sam Harper is the wicketkeeper and he looks set for a long Big Bash career and he loves to punish bowlers at the death. If he holds onto his catches then the Renegades will be highly competitive. Averaging 22 per innings with the bat is respectable by Renegades standards and he’ll definitely score quickly once he can get his score above 20.
Mohammed Nabi is another big player who can turn it on with both the ball. My only query is that he’s 36 but his batting average is only 2 runs below his bowling average which is the mark of a true talent. With a group of inexperienced local players in the team he’ll need to perform to his usual high standard if the Renegades are to have a chance. He’s another player who likes to go big.
— Cricket Lover ♥️ (@imwaseemhayder) December 4, 2021
Travis Head looks like he’ll be absent as will Alex Carey so it will be interesting to see how the Strikers cover this gap. Harry Nielsen will come in as the wicketkeeper and Phil Salt might be moved down the order to cover for Head. They have genuine pace with Wes Agar and a top line spinner with Rashid Khan’s leg spinners. Fawad Ahmad and Peter Siddle will provide much needed experience and leadership to a team that underperformed last season and will see the Renegades as a relatively easy way to start the season.
Batting The top order doesn’t look super impressive but Phil Salt from Wales is one who consistently does the job with an average of 24 in T20 cricket. Jake Weatherald is impressive and he looks like the sort of player who can score a quick fifty at Docklands. He’s smart enough to knock between the fielders which explains his average of 28, runs hard between the wickets and can go over the boundary rope when the time is right.
George Garton also provides value as an all-rounder who has developed into a dangerous player in the Big Bash. Good at the death but he can also carry the innings if things go wrong early on. He’s a strong man who stands 6 feet tall and a nervous Renegades bowling attack will be belted around the ground if he can see off 10 deliveries, get some bat on ball and build up his confidence. Maybe he’s the player of the match selection if the odds are right.
Harry Nielsen grew up in a cricketing household and it shows in the confidence that he has as a middle-order batter. A player who loves batting at the death, he can also farm the strike with the tailenders and ensure the innings goes the full 20 overs. A value for money player who can also provide entertainment. However, the tailenders aren’t the best and it’ll be good for Adelaide if the top order just bat on the conservative side for the first few overs.
Bowling This looks like the stronger side of their team and Rashid Khan is a local hero in Adelaide and a prospect for most wickets in the match. His fast leg spinners are a handful for even the best batters and he will be dangerous if he can get a chance to bowl against the Renegades tail. Sadly Afghanistan cricket looks like it has been cancelled so from now on this will be his biggest stage. He loves the big occasion which Docklands can produce but the short straight boundary will have to be protected.
Peter Siddle is coming to the end of a great career and he is still capable of bowling a four over spell in T20 cricket with his usual strength and intelligence. Forcing the batters onto the back foot and forcing them to fend and nudge away square of the wicket is what is required at Docklands and Siddle has that plan all worked out. He’s still able to beat the bat, particularly with the one that goes over the shoulder of the bat and the hard wicket at Dockland should suit him.
Wes Agar is unfortunate to be playing in an era with so many fine fast bowlers in Australia but he has adapted well to the Adelaide Strikers and he is sure to hit the bat which will make for a few awkward moments for the Renegades on the bouncy Docklands wicket. Perhaps this will be the season when it all comes together for him and there won’t be a better opportunity to show his stuff against the moderate Renegades batting line up.
Adelaide Strikers: Players to Watch
If Matt Renshaw is not required for the first Test then he’ll be a welcome addition with his sound batting technique and steady head. He might be the ‘’smokey’’ selection for player of the match because the thinking is that he isn’t really a T20 player and I have seen such theories debunked time and time again. All he needs is some confidence and then things will happen very quickly for him.
Rashid Khan stands out as the best player for the Adelaide Strikers and this game is the best opportunity he might have to go big this season. A class player who knows what to do, he’s smart enough to know that if he sticks to the plan of keeping it tight and on the stumps then he should be very hard to get away. He won’t be phased by the noise that will surely be present.
George Garton is another who is worth a look at for player of the match. Why? Because he does it at both bat and ball and is seriously underrated and he should be at a good price. Look for the players who are going up and who don’t attract too many headlines. Garton is in this category and the weak Renegades should be an ideal opportunity for a player with his class and temperament.
The uncertain Melbourne will probably ensure that the roof is shut and the Melbourne public will enjoy the return to something akin to normality. Noise and more will be an issue and the team that can deal with it has a 5% advantage.The lights are low because this is a footy stadium that adapts to cricket and the straight boundary rewards the strong batter. The drop-in pitch is bouncy and a few top edges down to the third man boundary will be seen. An awkward ground for the first timer. Bowlers who can pitch up to yorker length should do well and the spinners might be rewarded if the batters are lured into playing sweep shots.
Brisbane Heat’s spinners were excellent last season while there are high hopes for import Tom Abell
— Adelaide Strikers (@StrikersBBL) July 14, 2021
Renegades vs Strikers: Betting odds
Adelaide are the favourites at $1.83 in the head-to-head market on TopSport but that’s probably a bit short. Give the Renegades a miss too, I just don’t trust them with my money.
The best player market has more value and George Garton at $15 with TopSport is a great price. I’d rate him as a $12 chance. Rashid Khan is at $7.50 and that seems a touch short to me.
Renegades vs Strikers: Best Bet
Mohammed Nabi for player of the match looks a decent price at $11 with TopSport, and you know that’s he’s done it before. A smart player who still has the talent and will to succeed. Loves playing in front of loud crowds and can hit the ball straight and long.
Renegades vs Strikers: Best Same Game Multi
Mohammed Nabi (player of the match) x Sam Harper (to hit the most sixes) x Rashid Khan (to take the most wickets)
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